International Center for Transitional Justice: In Focus World Report

ICTJ World Report
April 2017




In Focus

Laundering the Corrupt Is a National Priority? Tunisian Civil Society Again Opposes the National Reconciliation Law

This is the third time that the Tunisian government, supported by several Members of Parliament, has put debate of the National Reconciliation Law on the political agenda. Rearranged in form but with the same substantial faults, this law has mobilized the opposition — for the third time — of approximately 20 civil society organizations that met yesterday and plan to soon hold a press conference.

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A court in Cote d’Ivoire cleared former First Lady Simone Gbagbo of war crimes and crimes against humanity charges after a trial on her alleged role in post-election abuses that led to the deaths of thousands. However, she must still serve 20 years in prison after being found guilty in 2015 of offenses against the state. The United Nations found 17 mass graves in the Democratic Republic of Congo as well as gathered reports of rapes and killings by soldiers. The International Criminal Court said the violence may amount to war crimes. According to the International Criminal Court, Uganda will not withdraw from the Rome Statute. In Kenya police watchdog groups are investigating a video that appears to show police officers executing an alleged gang member in Nairobi. The Gambia held its first parliamentary elections since long-time leader Yahya Jammeh left power. The country is expected to establish a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in upcoming months. The bodies of victims of Rwanda‘s 1994 genocide are still being discovered today, some with the aid of information from prisoners convicted for their involvement. Rwanda’s high court also convicted a man accused of leading and coordinating attacks on minority Tutsis during the genocide and sentenced him to life in prison. Protests in South Africa continued to call for honest and transparent governance. Former rebels in Mali agreed to attend a peace conference after previously saying they would boycott the talks.

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In Colombia, a truth commission has been officially launched to investigate what happened during the 52-year conflict that led to the victimization of 8 million people. Meanwhile, the demobilization and disarmament of FARC rebels continues with the building of “peace villages” to help facilitate their reintegration into society, which includes female combatants taking on the role of battling gender inequality. Former Guatemalan dictator Efrian Rios Montt will face a second trial on genocide charges for the deaths of around 200 people in the 1982 Dos Erres Massacre. Victims of Peru‘s forced sterilization program between 1996 and 2000 are seeking justice with the help of the Quipu Project, which hopes to change attitudes about the often taboo subject and help people speak out about their experiences. The number of “disappeared” in Mexico rose to 30,000 as of the end of 2016, according to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH). The organization has also counted 1,143 mass graves containing 3,230 bodies in 30 Mexican states, all secretly buried within the last decade.

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Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi denied that ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya population was occurring, while a top official called a potential UN probe into alleged human rights abuses in Rakhine state an unwanted obstacle. Too many tourists visiting Cambodia’s “killing fields” has raised concerns that commercialism might compromise efforts to preserve memorials for the 2 million or so lives lost under Pol Pot. Meanwhile, the Khmer Rouge Tribunal is seeking funding for its reparation efforts. A retired police officer who testified to killing hundreds of people while working for a “death squad” under Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has fled the country for fear of his life. The people of Tamil Nadu in Sri Lanka continued their demand for justice for war crimes committed during the country’s civil war. In Thailand, a brass plaque commemorating the historic proclamation ending 700 years of absolute monarchy in Thailand was mysteriously removed and replaced by a new plaque honoring the monarchy. The Chinese National Party (KMT) proposed a transitional justice bill that urged the inclusion of compensation for those affected by wartime missions after 1949.

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Files archived by the United Nations with early evidence of Holocaust death camps were opened for the first time to the public and online. The UN urged Kosovo to investigate the threat of “ethnic cleansing” by a senior official. The Council of Europe also said the country must end impunity for the crimes committed during the conflict by ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Bosnia tried nine former Bosnian Serb soldiers and policemen on charges related to the capture, abuse, and murder of Bosniak civilians in 1992.

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In Tunisia, parliament today is debating a “reconciliation law” that would grant amnesty to businessmen accused of corruption during the rule of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali – a bill already delayed two years by popular opposition. Meanwhile, the country’s Truth and Dignity Commission has made efforts to confront past horrors and bring some perpetrators to justice. US Senators introduced a bipartisan bill in a bid to investigate war crimes in Syria, including the creation of a “hybrid tribunal.” Witness testimony and documentation from Syria’s secret torture wards housed in military hospitals offered some of the most concrete evidence of crimes against humanity to date. In Lebanon, families of the missing urged the government to approve a project to collect DNA samples to try to trace victims’ whereabouts on the 42nd anniversary of the start of the nation’s civil war. A court in Egypt sentenced former interior minister Habib el-Adly, who served under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, to seven years in jail for corruption. Israel marked annual Holocaust Remembrance Day with the ritual wailing of sirens across the country.

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Assessing the Prospects for Transitional Justice in Georgia

Since Georgia’s independence in 1991, successive governments have struggled to deal with endemic corruption, organized crime, and various disputes along its borders, which sometimes sparked into armed conflict. Efforts to combat corruption and organized crime through its “zero-tolerance” policy on crime degenerated into extensive human rights violations.

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Media and Transitional Justice: A Dream of Symbiosis in a Troubled Relationship

In transitional contexts, reporting does not simply present the facts, but instead shapes the parameters for interpreting divisive political issues. Coverage in such polarized contexts can mitigate or obscure the substance of transitional justice efforts to establish what happened, who the victims were, and who was responsible for the violations.

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Upcoming Events

May 09, 2017

‘Adjudicating Rights’ – Manuel Cepeda in conversation with Octavio Ferraz and Sandra Fredman Location: University of Oxford View Details

June 08 – 09, 2017

Transnational and Global Dimensions of Justice and Memory Processes in Europe and Latin America Location: Paris View Details

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